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Blitz Land Three On All-af2 Teams

August 17, 2004 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Bakersfield Blitz News Release

Bakersfield, Calif. – The af2 league office today announced the First Team and Second Team All-af2 selections for the 2004 season, and the Bakersfield Blitz had three players selected. Kevin “Catfish” Carroll was picked to the First Team at offensive/defensive line. Ahmad Bhatti and Eric Mahanke were placed on the Second Team at OL/DL and wide receiver/linebacker, respectively. Af2 coaches selected the teams, and were permitted only to vote for players within their own conference. They could not vote for members of their own team.

“Catfish” was one of the veteran players on the Blitz this season, and finished tied for the league lead with 8.5 sacks. He also finished tied for third in the af2 with four forced fumbles. He also had 7.5 tackles for a loss, including one safety, and led all Blitz linemen with 28.5 tackles on the year. Carroll also caught one touchdown pass this season. He has spent significant time in the AFL, playing eight seasons with Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Anaheim, Cincinnati and Grand Rapids. “Catfish” was at his strongest early in the year, when he had 4.5 sacks in a four-game stretch, and at the end of the season when he had 8.5 tackles and three sacks in the final three games of the regular season.

Bhatti was named to the Second Team All-af2 at OL/DL for the second consecutive season. He ranked sixth in the af2 in tackles for a loss (TFL) with 9.5, and 10th in sacks with 6.5, and finished second among Blitz linemen to Carroll with 26.0 tackles. Bhatti also forced a fumble, recovered one, had one safety and an interception on the year.

The third year pro out of Fresno State recorded a TFL in 10 of the 16 games this season, and had two separate streaks of three games with at least half of a sack. A natural offensive lineman, Bhatti dominated the opposition on the offensive side of the ball as well, allowing no sacks for the second straight season.

Mahanke had the most productive season of his three-year career, ranking fourth in the league with 110 receptions and seventh in the af2 with 1,455 yards receiving. Also a Fresno State grad, Mahanke caught 27 touchdown passes this season, and caught a touchdown in 15 of 16 games this season, including at least one in each of the first 14 games. Defensively, Mahanke had three interceptions and made a pair of fumble recoveries, returning one of each for a touchdown. He finished fifth on the Blitz with 39.0 tackles and second with 28 assisted tackles. He established new career marks, and new af2 marks in Bakersfield, in both receptions and yards, finishing second in the conference in catches. He was named the U.S. Army Ironman of the Week in the af2 in Week 15.

“It’s a great honor for Kevin,” said Blitz Head Coach Rick Van Horne. “He was one of the best pass rushers in all of af2. Bhatti’s consistent play all season earned him a spot. He was a mainstay on both sides of the ball and was a key ingredient for our success this year. As far as Mahanke is concerned, it’s unbelievable that he could have a year that he had and be left off the First Team. Eric was the top two-way performer in all of the af2.”

The Blitz, champions of the West Division in 2004, landed more players on the All-af2 teams than any other squad in the division. Both Hawaii and San Diego placed two players and Central Valley had one player. In the National Conference, only Oklahoma City had more selections, with four players. American Conference finalists Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Florida both had five players on the American Conference All-af2 Teams.

Season tickets for the Blitz 2005 season are on sale now by contacting the Bakersfield Sports Entertainment office at 716-BLITZ (2548).

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